July Catalog: An "Egg"ceptional Silk Crepe Maxidress

Oh puns. I crack myself up sometimes. Get it? Crack? Egg? Chicken? I'll stop now.

Can someone please explain to me what a chicken is doing next to the model on page 08 of the July "Styleguide?" I'm serious. There are a few other oddities - the croquet set, the tennis ball and racket, the mismatched set of luggage and the overabundance of pineapples (we get it, you love pineapples!)

And oh, I think "A Hands Free Purse" is called a cross-body by most, well, everyone. But hey, ice cream! Who doesn't love that? (Was the Copywriter-From-Space on vacation?)




If we're being honest, I'm actually a little disappointed at the lack of any other farm animals in this issue. But the balloon flamingo in the Crewcuts section was a nice touch.

If you hadn't noticed the chicken before, here you go. I'd hate for you to miss out.



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R29 Shops: Spend $60, Get $100 at Madewell - No Strings Attached

This was so exciting to me I had to come out of blogger "retirement." (HA! Kidding, as if my absence was really a retirement....nevermind....) So yeah, anyway - Madewell! Woo!

Despite the fact I've returned nearly 98% (alright, it's more like 99%) of everything I've purchased from J.Crew lately, I'm a H U G E fan of Madewell. HUGE! So the minute this deal from the Refinery29 Shops hit my inbox I knew I had to snap it up. I already have quite a few items in my Madewell online shopping cart so I knew I'd put it to good use. Fingers crossed I can hang onto it until another %-off sale rolls around!

Oh, and if you have any trepidation (hey, we all do sometimes) - the minute I clicked "submit order" the email "voucher" (actually it's just a Madewell email gift card number with a pin) was in my inbox literally (literally!) two seconds later. Yep, it was that fast.

Here's the deal (according to the R29 site:)


HOW TO REDEEM

1. Purchase your R29 Ticket for $60 to receive an email with a gift card and pin number entitling you to $100, redeemable on all Madewell merchandise online or in-store.

2. To redeem Ticket online, visit www.madewell.com and input your gift card and pin number into the "Gift Cards or Rewards" field at checkout. To redeem Ticket in-store, print out a copy of your R29 Ticket listing gift card and pin number and present at checkout.

3. Any remaining balance left on your gift card after submitting your order can be redeemed on a future purchase by signing into your Madewell account.

4. Redeem your gift card before September 30, 2013 to receive the full promotional value.

THE FINE PRINT

R29 Ticket can be redeemed to purchase online www.madewell.com & in-store merchandise including sale items. To redeem in stores, print email with ticket code and present to store associate at checkout.
R29 Ticket cannot be applied to previous purchases, the purchase of gift cards and cannot be redeemed for cash.
R29 Tickets are non-refundable.
Returns must be made pursuant to Madewell’s return policy and customers will receive a Madewell gift card amounting to the refunded amount.
R29 Ticket may be redeemed over multiple transactions.
Valid in the US only. Only 1 R29 Ticket per customer. 

ANY UNUSED PORTION OF THE $40 PROMOTIONAL VALUE OF THE R29 TICKET WILL BE FORFEITED IF NOT USED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 30, 2013.

THE $60 PAID VALUE OF THE R29 TICKET WILL NEVER EXPIRE.

Looks like these vouchers will only be available for the next 13 days or so. Get with the clickin' already!* http://www.refinery29.com/shops/r29-tickets/madewell-r29-ticket-spend-60-get-100.html

*Disclaimer: I don't get any kickbacks or well, anything,  for promoting this - I was just really super excited because I shop at Madewell all the time and by gosh, it's been awhile since R29 has done a voucher that I'd actually use. So you know.

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"You dress simply." - In Chicago

It's no secret I'm not big on "statement" pieces. I prefer subtle jewelry and I'm not much of a prints (large or small) person either. And oh gosh, I so do not like peplum. (Wait, what does that have to do with anything? Yeah nevermind.)

So it should've come as no surprise when, on a water taxi ride back to downtown Chicago - with a 9-year-old I have no relation to (the daughter of a friends' sister) said to me, very matter-of-factly "You dress simply." To which I replied, "Yes I do."

I've always admired those folks who can legitimately pull together an outfit with just a white or black t-shirt, jeans and some really awesome jewelry. Not even saying "over the top" type jewelry - just....you know...elegant. (Boy I hate that word. In the design world "elegant" is thrown around like the old family pigskin. "I want it to be elegant!"Loses some of its oomph after you've heard it the 6,5234,898th time.) I just wanted to look halfway decent out in the "big city."Anyway! Fabulous Florida Mommy put together a whole post on "P is for Plain White Tee" and Jenna Lyons claims she loves to wear Hanes Mens White Tees (I can't find this reference, it might've been tank tops...). So me, with a multitude of J.Crew tees (in Vintage Cotton, Tissue and my special J.Crew Collection Modal Tees) - I can easily pull off the casual tried-without-trying look, right?

Here's an example oh how I wanted to look, pulled from Pinterest:




Well I did try, really I did. But I still looked like a schlub. My t-shirts never fit quite right - oh they're the right size (I mean, in theory I thought they were the right size), but they end up being too long, or lumpy in odd places. Or just saggy. They never look polished. I did attempt to pair the simple white tees with "nice" jewelry. I'd just purchased a Lauren Wolf Multi-Strand Turquoise Bead & Silver Bracelet and I had a few bangles from Low Luv by Erin Wasson (all purchased from Gilt.)


But despite my best efforts, I just looked like a ruffigan wearing the odd bracelet or three (I still haven't quite gotten the hang of the arm party yet either). It is what it is.

After visiting a non-Magnificent-Mile Starbucks on Sunday morning, I returned to the hotel and explained to my husband that all the people there (who I'm totally assuming to be locals, in large part because many of them had dogs and it didn't make sense in my head that they would be at a coffeeshop from out of town with your dog in tow) - were wearing t-shirts, jeans and flip flops! They actually did look like they'd just rolled out of bed on a weekend morning and ran out for coffee. But their version of "oh I just threw something on" looked SO much better than my "I totally contemplated what to wear and changed three times before I left the hotel" style. They all looked so nice and put together. How do they do it?

My husband's response? "Money. They have lots of money."

So yeah, if we're being honest - if you're able to afford an apartment or condo in that part of downtown Chicago, you're probably not too bad off (if I were to count other peoples' money, which I'm totally doing.) But - true or not - it's my belief that if you've selected the proper fit and style you can look pretty darn polished in anything - be it the $84 plain white t-shirt from Steven Alan, or the $5 shirt you found on clearance at H&M. I want to believe that. I need to believe that. Because I just can't ever see myself spending $305 on a long-sleeved plain white t-shirt from Net-a-Porter (just you wait, I bet I'll eat my words one day.)

'Lest you think all I can do is whine about my inability to get dressed while on vacation (hey, it does seem to be a recurring theme when I go out of town) here are a few shots of Chicago. :)
Walking along Michigan Avenue
Walking along Michigan Avenue (other side of the street)

Dinner on the patio at Giordano's


Walking through Lincoln Park
Dinner at Nacional 27
Afternoon in Chinatown

Docent tour of the Aragon Ballroom

Drinks at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

A quick stop by Permanent Records
(Bob Pollard of Guided By Voices gave a shout-out to Permanent Records during The Metro show we'd attended the night before. For the record, GBV = not for me. Now I know.)

Caught 'The Queen of Versailles" at the Music Box Theater


Red Line Back to Downtown



And here's the Polyvore of what I packed. There were a few things I didn't wear, like the Mona Printed Pumps - mostly because of all the walking......and the places we visited on this trip didn't really call for heels.

Chicago: August 2012



J.Crew v neck tee / J.Crew knit top / J.Crew heather t shirt / J.Crew boat neck sweater / J.Crew v neck t shirt / Madewell linen top / Madewell oversized top / Madewell knit top / Madewell black t shirt / Madewell striped top / J crew / J.Crew high waisted denim pants / J.Crew j crew shoes / J.Crew j crew shoes / J.Crew round toe pumps / J.Crew j crew jewelry / J.Crew chain necklace / J.Crew buckle jewelry / Madewell metal jewelry / LowLuv bronze jewelry / Madewell engraved jewelry / Madewell beaded jewelry / Madewell vintage style jewelry / Madewell friendship bracelet / Madewell stud earrings / Diamond necklace / J.Crew indian shawl / American Vintage scarve, $62 / Miansai® rope bracelet / Berkshire Road Lori

So there you have it. To recap, Chicago was a blast, as always. And, in that I was actually out in the real world for a few days, I've come to the conclusion that I would like to dress "simply" without being "simple." How does one do that, exactly? I'm open to tips.


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The Biella Patent Loafers....It's Not You, It's Me


These shoes went on an adventure with me this spring.

I was scheduled to speak at SXSW (third year in a row, yay), then jet off from Austin to San Francisco for two on-site interviews, one with RIM, the other at YouTube.

I took the J.Crew Biella Patent Loafers.

It was my first time wearing them, and I can't say they were the most comfortable. I usually wear heels to interviews - the flats thing was throwing me off. And my pants were a bit too short, so they didn't graze the floor the way I usually tend to wear flat shoes with trousers. Oh, and they have absolutely zero tread on the bottom, so I was slipping and sliding all over the place when I got there. Basically, I was feeling awkward. Exuding confidence in my appearance, I most certainly was not.

Oh yes - the interview.Would you like to hear how it went? Here you go!

The RIM interview went great, people were nice, super laid back - we'll just skip over that one. YouTube though.... first off, I'd done the RIM interview on Monday and they'd put me up in a hotel in Mountain View, CA. Since RIM was only covering the expense of the days I was in town for their interview, I had to switch hotels for Tuesday and Wednesday (the day of the YouTube interview). I also had to drive to the airport to switch rental cars and rental car agencies. Two companies, two separate expense reports and all that.

The hotel YouTube selected was in downtown San Francisco. Which is a good 30 minutes (without traffic) away from the YouTube offices in San Bruno. This is important to note, because the day of my actual interview I had to drive in pouring down rain, more rain than San Francisco normally gets (EVER). So in addition to me not really knowing where I was going (the TomTom got confused!), people on the highways were also driving like crazed freaked-out it-never-rains-here maniacs. So yeah, it's safe to say I probably failed that part of the test. I wasn't technically late, but let's just say I didn't arrive early either.

Since I'd been wearing the same clothes for a week by this point (through multiple airport layovers in Tampa and Phoenix and during it's chilly, wait it's super-hot conference), and because it was raining cats and dogs, I thought it might be nice to grab my water-proof J.Crew Excursion Quilted Jacket (item 48592) and my new Madewell Dotscale Scarf (item 69062) that I'd purchased the day I got into Austin for the SXSW conference (when I drove all over hell's half-acre to find the nearest Madewell – which is out in the middle-of-nowhere, Austin. But it's a nice mall nonetheless. With large bird sculptures. Who wouldn't love that?)

Interview Outfit



J.Crew knit top / J.Crew slim fit shirt / J.Crew quilted jacket / J.Crew chino pants

Back to the topic at hand. Here's a good lesson to learn - important interviews are not the place to try out brand new and/or never-before-worn outfits or shoes. It's also not a good idea to wash your hair the same morning that you have an interview. When it's raining. And you're likely to be running behind because you're nervous and don't want to leave the hotel even though you woke up super early and have no excuse to leave late. I looked like one big hot mess. A frizzy, exasperated hot mess.

But I got there. Did my presentation. Met lots of people. And I spent the day slipping and sliding around the hallways in my new uncomfortable shoes (oh, speaking of sliding....did I mention they have a GIANT two-story sliding board in the YouTube office? That no one uses and has a fence around it because the day it was installed someone was injured? Hey, that was the story I was told...)

So yeah. That was that. Very full day. In the end it didn't work out with YouTube - they were "looking for something very specific." No hard feelings. But a couple weeks later the recruiter called back (while I was at a Springsteen concert in Cleveland so I didn't answer my phone - isn't that completely random) and said Google proper wanted to speak to me. A call was scheduled. I waited all evening - until 7pm Pacific (10pm Eastern) and finally realized that I had been blown off. The call was re-scheduled, and it was brief (because the hiring manager had to leave for Coachella): "Your design test was the best I've ever seen!" he said. "You'd be a great fit for my team!" A week passed with nary a peep, so I followed up. The recruiter wrote back "I am waiting to hear back from ***** and will keep you in the loop :-)"

Another two weeks passed. By this point I'm acting like the pathetic dejected date whose calls always go unanswered even though s/he thought the other person really really liked him/her (because, um, you know - they actually said they did.) After it'd been a good three weeks I made a last ditch effort to reach out to the recruiter and the hiring manager, but I received no response in return.

I'm not sure what happened. I did find another job not too long after (that I LOVE. Hooray hooray!) but to say I'm not bummed by the whole thing - well, I was. More so I just wish I could've gotten a definitive "it's not you, it's me" or a "hey, I'm just not that into you." But I've got the experience to tell. And I suppose that's something.

Oh yeah. I haven't worn those shoes ever since.

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Smokin' Jenna Lyons! (Literally)


So I just now (finally) cracked open my latest issue of Vogue and caught this shot of Jenna Lyons in the corner of the last few pages. While the photo isn't new (I'd seen it before in the vogue.com slideshow of American Beauty: A Book of Iconic Portraits Spotlights Women Across the Land), it's the first time I noticed what she was holding in her hand.

Here's a close-up.

I'm personally not a smoker, but (wait for it) I have plenty of friends who either do now, or used to smoke - so no judgement, honest! (yeah yeah, you've heard that before!) But seriously - my initial thoughts were: 1) Huh. I had no idea. and 2) Now that I know (or think) Jenna Lyons smokes, that makes a difference because......why?  (I clearly noticed it for a reason, I'm just trying to figure out what that says about me.)

I don't know why that would seem at all strange - pretty much everyone I went to art school with in college smoked – kids used to stand on the bridge right below my dorm room freshman year with their Cloves cigarettes (I now have very fond memories of the scent). And I spent the better part of my twenties hanging out in smoky dive bars with bands night after night, and at the time it didn't bother me one bit. (Since they've enacted the smoking ban in recent years and I'm not as accustomed to it, it seems I can detect the smell of a smoker from a block away, whether they're smoking or not. But that has nothing to do with this. I digress.)

Anyway! There's a reason I bring all this up – because it reminded me of a post I read over at Refinery29 awhile back titled: "Street Style: A Crosswalk Stunner (Despite the Cancer-Stick)". They'd posted a photo of a super-chic model, looking her super-chic-est. And she was holding a cigarette. And the comments section went nuts. Claims of R29 being "self righteous" were thrown about because they brought it up at all; others just said the model just looked super cute - didn't matter. So what difference does it make? Just a thought to ponder.

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I don't know about you, but I'm super excited to see the J.Crew documentary tonight and learn more about the enigma that is Millard (Mickey) Drexler. The man who loves his intercom, who turned around the GAP and who owns a disproportionately large plot of land in the Hamptons. While I've never actually met Mr. Drexler, I can say from personal experience (because I'm that annoying person who likes to bother CEOs of companies with shipping discrepancies in my orders, but to my credit I also bothered him one time to complement him after reading an interview that talked about what he ate at the Wolseley) that he responds quickly to personal emails - even on holidays - and I'm convinced that he really, honestly and truly does care about making his customers happy. Of course that's just my take on it. But regardless - enigma! Can't wait to watch!

(image above yoinked from HypeBeast)

Want to beef up on your J.Crew/Mickey trivia before the show? This (below) was sent to me by Jennifer, the PR Director at CNBC:
What is it that makes J. Crew’s clothing and merchandise unique? From New York to Italy, CNBC goes inside the months-long process of conceiving, creating, and marketing a new line of clothing. CNBC follows J.Crew President and Executive Creative Director Jenna Lyons and her team of J.Crew designers as they work tirelessly to refine the Fall 2012 line and present it to their leader -- J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler. Drexler has been dubbed “The King of Retail” for his intuitive sense of what the public craves and for his ability to turn around troubled companies including the Gap. CNBC captures Drexler’s candid reaction to the line and gets an inside look at which items make the final the cut. Here’s a sneak peak: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000090884&play=1.

With more than 40 million copies printed annually, the J.Crew catalog is one of the most popular fashion publications in America. This “style guide” is a must-read for the fashion conscious and even in this Internet age a key tool for driving company sales. CNBC’s Faber goes behind-the-scenes and gets a first-hand look at the time and detail that go into creating the catalog. He spends time with J.Crew CEO Millard “Mickey Drexler and J.Crew President and Executive Creative Director Jenna Lyons as they candidly piece together each page of the 120 page volume from a big-budget photo shoot in Palm Springs, California, all the way through the process of choosing the cover.  Here’s a sneak peak: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000089463&play=1.

CNBC also profiles J. Crew CEO Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who at 67, is known for his obsessive focus on detail, unflinching candor and for trusting his instincts over market research. Since taking over J. Crew in 2003, Drexler has successfully introduced designer-quality clothing for the masses, driving the company’s revenues up 170% to nearly $1.9 billion in 2011. CNBC joins him on a tour of his old Bronx neighborhood, where he grew up in a modest apartment and slept on a bed in the hallway. Today, he is extraordinarily wealthy.  Drexler discusses his long career in retail and the turnaround for which he is best known – Gap Inc. Drexler transformed the company’s image, overhauled stores, expanded the customer base, and launched a “khaki revolution,” making the retail giant the number one apparel company in the world.  But, by 2002, a stalled economy and changing fashion tastes drove Gap’s sales into free fall and he was blamed and fired from the company he had led for nineteen years.  Here’s a few sneak peaks:  http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000089462&play=1 and http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000090880&play=1.

CNBC also goes inside a J.Crew store that gets refreshed before the rest.  J. Crew's CEO Mickey Drexler is known for his obsessive attention to detail. The brand's 300 stores are not exempt from this scrutiny. Drexler and his team use the J. Crew in New Jersey's Garden State Plaza mall as a beta test. The look they settle on there will be replicated in stores around the country. Here’s a sneak peak: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000090863&play=1

"J.Crew and the Man Who Dressed America" airs tonight* on CNBC.
**Thursday, May 24th at 10PM ET/PT

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The Gap’s New Advisor Is J.Crew’s Former President

I wonder if this means we'll see a return to the "glory days" of the GAP. Will we say goodbye to the ill-fitting, disposable throw-away, um, everything? Here's hoping!

The Gap’s New Advisor Is J.Crew’s Former President [nymag.com]


The poor old Gap has been limping along with poor sales figures for years now, but perhaps the company is actually ready to make good on all those promises to fix itself up and sell clothes people actually want to buy. Enter Tracy Gardner, who was the president of J.Crew from 2004 to 2010, after which she resigned in order to “spend more time with her children," according to J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler (she was replaced by Jenna Lyons). Like Drexler, Gardner worked at the Gap before J.Crew, so this move is a homecoming of sorts.

As of now, Gardner doesn't have a specific title; she'll work "in an advisory capacity and will provide oversight and guidance on the development of our women’s product,” Gap spokeswoman Louise Callagy told WWD.  And don't expect to see major changes at the store for quite some time — Callagy said that Gardner's first project is "developing holiday product for 2012." (If Gardner brings any of her J.Crew fairy dust with her, this means we can anticipate lots of sequins and artfully half-tucked collared shirts from the Gap come Christmas.) Meanwhile, the brand is still hunting for a successor for head designer Patrick Robinson, who was dismissed this past summer.
Read more about Tracy Gardner's new position at Women's Wear Daily: http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/people/tracy-gardner-to-advise-gap-5526740?module=today

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